Some of my fondest childhood memories include coming in from the cold to find a pot of hot, wholesome and delicious soup bubbling away on the stove. Once my parents invested in a wood-burning stove, the soup pots were transferred to the wood-burning stove where they’d keep warm and hot all day.
And winters in rural Ontario, Canada, could be cold indeed. My father was fond of taking chicken bones and making soup from those. In fact, he was too fond of doing that and I got SO sick of chicken soup that it would take me years before I could eat it again. A big pot of thick and chunky pea soup, however, was another story.
Homemade pea soup remains one of my favorites. There’s a sweetness to it from the split peas and ham, and when you take the time to make the ham stock with a ham bone, the flavor is unbelievable. This soup is a labor of love, but it freezes like a dream. I make a big pot of it and freeze it in individual-size containers to enjoy all-year long.
Please note: This soup can get really thick, and tends to thicken up overnight once the peas have been added and cooked. Add a bit of water or chicken broth to adjust the consistency if you desire.
- Ham Stock:
- ham bone
- 12 cups of water
- ½ onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound dried split green peas
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- salt and pepper to season
- The day before, begin making your stock. I use a leftover ham bone (with most of the meat removed, or reserve 1-cup of ham from the bone) from a spiral ham, but you could easily substitute low-sodium or unsalted chicken broth and season it yourself.
- Add the ham bone to a large pot of water and cover with about 12 cups of water.
- Add the onion, smashed garlic cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves.
- Simmer, very low, for about 2-hours.
- Remove from heat and take out the bone.
- Let the stock cool slightly, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer (or double layer of cheese cloth) to remove all the solids.
- Return the stock to the pot (or put it in a large bowl) and chill it overnight in the fridge so that the fat rises to the surface and can be scraped off.
- Remove the cold stock and scrape off the layer of fat with a slotted spoon. Discard the fat.
- Warm the stock on low heat on the stove. You'll need about 10 cups of liquid for a pound of peas. Too many peas and your soup will be too thick, too few and it'll be too runny. If your soup ends up too thick, you can add a bit of water (or chicken broth) before serving.
- Bring the stock to a slow simmer and add one pound of split green peas.
- Simmer on low for about 35-40 minutes.
- Add the carrots and continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until the peas are soft and dissolved.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve!